The Roles of Touch during Phone Conversations: Long-Distance Couples’ Use of POKE in Their Homes

CHI 2013, April 27–May 2, 2013, Paris, France – Paper presentation


Young-Woo Park, Kyoung-Min Beak, Tek-Jin Nam


We report the roles of touch during phone conversations by observing long-distance couples’ one month use of POKE in their homes. POKE enables users to deliver touches through an inflatable surface on the front of the device that receives index finger pressure inputs on the back of another device, while allowing the callers to maintain a conventional phone-calling posture. After a month of use by three couples, we found unexpected roles of touch in that it supported the couples in developing and sharing their tactile vocabularies by applying POKE during various conversational situations. Moreover, the findings confirmed the roles that touch play in face-to-face communication. In particular, POKE was useful for expressing and understanding emotions, resolving conversations smoothly by replacing the words, feeling close to the partner at a distance, and concentrating on the phone conversations. We conclude by discussing the unused situations, privacy issues, and usable targets to improve POKE as a way of future tactile phone conversations.


Role of Touch, Tactile Phone Call, Tactile Vocabulary, Field Trial

ACM Classification

H.5.2. [Information Interfaces and Presentation (e.g., HCI)]: User Interfaces, Haptic I/O